Being broke shouldn’t be a barrier to romance. But with Valentine’s Day coming so soon after Christmas, some lovers might be feeling the pinch.
So I’ve been looking at some budget ways to bare your heart next week. Here’s how to be a romantic cheapskate this February…
Giant cards that sing, cards with pop-up hearts, personalised cards featuring names and photographs… You can spend a small fortune on a Valentine’s card.
But the card is about the message you write in it and the thought behind it, not the amount of pink glitter and wobbly-eyed kittens it has stuck on. So my favourite this year is ASDA’s Smart Price card, at a budget-friendly 7p.
As long as your lover has a good sense of humour, this shows you care but protects your purse.
Never ever buy roses at Valentine’s. You’ll pay four times as much as the rest of the year – and the next day, the exact same flowers are in the supermarkets’ discount bin for a fraction of the price. Last year, my supermarket had a £20 rose bouquet cut to £8 the following day.
So why not buy them the next day instead? Will your partner really care that much if they get their flowers on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, especially if it means you have some extra cash to spend on other treats? Write an IOU and pop it in with their card.
If you really want to give flowers on Valentine’s Day itself, there are other ways to keep the cost down. You could always buy flowers that aren’t Valentine’s themed, there are plenty of lovely bunches for under a fiver.
Many voucher websites are offering discounts on chocolates, even around Valentine’s. For example, Quidco has a voucher for 10% off at Hotel Chocolat, DiscountVouchers.co.uk has a voucher code for 8% off at the Chocolate Trading Company, and myvouchercodes.co.uk has five different offers for Thorntons chocolates.
But I think a bit of creativity can help you keep the cost low. You could buy some cheaper chocs, like a 187g bar of Mousse au Chocolat from Aldi at £1.69, and wrap it in pink crepe paper. If you have kids, they could help decorate a box for the chocolate – it could even be more special than a heart-shaped, padded box that’s cost 18 times as much.
It’s not cheap to eat out at Valentine’s, but some of the bigger chains have special deals for couples. For example, Pizza Express offers a shared starter, individual main and a shared pudding for £15 each, while ASK has three courses and a glass of bubbly for just under £17 a person.
You may find it hard to book a table for Valentine’s this close to the day, and it can be cheaper to eat at home anyway. But if neither of you want to cook, many supermarkets are selling romantic meals for two at fairly decent prices.
ASDA has a two-course meal for two, with a bottle of wine, for £10. You choose a main dish, side dish, pudding and bottle – and there’s quite a lot of choice, from oven-baked smoked haddock, to chicken breast roulade.
Cheaply-made red underwear, comedy cartoon boxers, cutesy bears clutching love hearts – generic Valentine’s gifts can be pretty pricey and very useless.
A cheaper present that’s taken more thought can be a real winner here; it shows your loved one that you’ve listened to them and spent time picking something thoughtful.
For example, last year I bought my husband a mechanical pencil for Valentine’s at a cost of £5. It might not sound romantic but he’d been saying he needed a new one. Now he uses it every day at work. It’s hard to see how a teddy bear would have had the same longevity.
So my cheapskate Valentine included all the traditional presents and came to a total of £21.76.
Couples living on a budget can be romantic as long as they keep a sense of humour about it. But if you’re really on a tight budget then there are plenty of free ways to enjoy your evening together. A home-cooked meal, a cheesy film, an early night – all free and all fun.